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Vos confident Springboks can raise their game
July 17, 2000

South Africa captain Andre Vos believes his side will still provide formidable opposition to the All Blacks despite suggestions to the contrary in the press.

He dismissed suggestions South Africa had fallen behind New Zealand and Australia, who produced an epic Test in the Tri Nations opener at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

"I think you'll see a very determined team on the field this weekend," he said of the Springboks' opening Tri Nations match on Saturday against New Zealand in Christchurch.

"I think we're probably looking the best that we have all year."

Vos said South Africa dropped their guard in the second half of the the inaugural Nelson Mandela Trophy match against Australia in Melbourne last week to lose 44-23.

He said "one or two lapses of concentration" saw Australia win the match in the final 15 minutes.

He agreed the All Blacks produced a tremendous performance to beat Australia 39-35 on Saturday night.

"It was an awesome game. But we saw a few weaknesses in the All Blacks that we will work on this week," Vos said.

"There is no reason why we should not be confident of beating them."

Springboks coach Nick Mallett said his team would not be intimidated by the All Blacks.

"The match emphasised the fact that there is no place in the modern game for players that cannot tackle," he said.

"But we won't be intimidated. If you have a player in your team who is weak on defence he will be exploited."

Vos believes retaining possession is the key to beating New Zealand.

"The holes that the Australians managed to open up on defence by holding the ball is something we'll look at and hopefully we'll exploit that by keeping possession for as long as we can," he said.

The loose forward predicted another free-flowing encounter of running rugby against the All Blacks.

"That's what we have been trying to do all year," he said.

"It hasn't worked all the time but you saw a little bit of that against Australia in the first half and a little bit in the second half where we were able to get our hands on the ball and keep possession for a bit.

"That's definitely what we'll be trying to do this weekend - that's what international rugby's all about now."

Vos said the All Black line-out performed poorly against the Wallabies but the Springboks also had some work to do in this area.

"We've had a bit of work to do ourselves but you really do have to give credit to the Australians for the way they do compete in the line-outs-outs," Vos said. South Africa fly to Christchurch on Tuesday.

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